Feeding a green bird of tolerance without Erasmus+ grants

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CSIPERÓ – that is the name of my furry friend I get acquainted with when I was 8 years old.

It was long before international mobility projects for young people got as ’mainstream’ as nowadays, and much longer before I could understand what discrimination and fear of the different would mean. For an eight-year-old ’different’ was equivalent to ’exciting’; to something to discover.

As Dora the explorer has Boots, his monkey to accompany her in her adventures, I had Csiperó, the bird mascot of the „Future of Europe International Children and Youth Meeting”, a festival whose first edition goes back to the beginning of the ’90s. It was born with the aim to create an opportunity for the young people of Kecskemét to get in touch with youth from all around the world through cultural, artistic and educational programmes.

Growing up with/in this festival, it was more than obvious that someday, somehow I will take up the torch and offer other youngsters the opportunity that I was lucky to have back in the days. Among these opportunities, besides Erasmus+ learning mobilities, the „festival of Csiperó” still remains. That’s how I found myself managing the cultural-artistic programme of the festival in 2008, 2010 and again in 2016.

But this experience made me reflect on an important aspect of the life of non-profit organisations. The social field struggles with economic problems – and will do till we don’t reach the recognition of essentiality of the work in this sector for a functioning society – and stays dependent on grants. Running after deadlines and creating ad-hoc projects with no long-term benefits became the disease of the non-profit sector, and professionals get caught in the wheel of hope and uncertainty.

The work of social actors – let it be in the youth, educational or cultural field – can not be limited to answering to tempting grants with the slight possibility to receive funding for an activity; organisational capacities should be further thought and developed towards a social business model, with ensuring professionals their salaries without misusing the name and situation of their beneficiaries, preventing the present dynamics that, at the moment, lead us to a moral choice between underpaid work and low social impact.

The path is still long and the way is unclear – I only hope that along the road we’ll find mentors as Csiperó to remind us: we can always choose to do things differently.

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Article: Dóra Deák
Photo credit: Csaba Bús